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Welcoming Refugee Families: February Update

 

In the last six months, the Institute has formally welcomed more than 200 Afghan evacuees into our resettlement program.

Thank you for joining us in welcoming them to Minnesota.

The speed of this response is unlike any we have encountered in decades. In the first week of February, we helped 54 people move to permanent housing. Behind each of these moves was an incredible display of teamwork and community support.

Thanks to the generosity of our Afghan Refugee Family Fund donors, each arriving Afghan family has at least their first five months of rent covered as they rebuild stability. We have received leads on more than 30 housing opportunities from our online form. Donation Drive Organizers have collected more than 50 sets of housing donations, supplying all the basics that a family needs on day one in their new home. Our incredible Housing volunteers build furniture, make up beds, clean and fill pantries and refrigerators to pull everything together before the family moves in.

Your support has helped us accomplish so much, thank you.

Self-sufficiency is a long, layered process. For the majority of newly arriving refugees, housing is just the beginning of a transition to life in Minnesota. Fortunately, our new neighbors have the full support of the Institute’s services behind them. In addition to case managers working to help families secure basic needs, locate affordable housing, connect to benefits, and enroll kids in school, we also conduct community orientation workshops, provide employment services and help new arrivals navigate health care. Additionally, all New Americans have access to our English classes, Workforce Development and Immigration Services.

Soon, we will begin to see more refugee arrivals from other countries in addition to continuing to support Afghan evacuees. As of February 15, seven of the eight U.S. military bases that temporarily housing Afghan evacuees have closed, with individuals and families settling into their new communities. Afghan evacuees living in other countries outside of the U.S. will begin to arrive. The Institute is planning to resettle an additional 40+ Afghan evacuees and an additional 431 refugees by September 30.

In many ways, this work is just beginning. Your sustained support will ensure that every new arrival has the same opportunities.

Here are ways you can continue to support newly arriving refugees:

  • Volunteer as a Bus Buddy. Help our new neighbors become self-sufficient on public transportation! (highest immediate need)
  • Become a Housing Set-up Volunteer. We continue to need help from more volunteers with daytime availability on weekdays. Please apply!
  • Prepare a Housing Drive. We will need help with more Housing Drives for families arriving this spring. We are currently scheduling drop-off appointments for early April. If you are a part of a community group interested in organizing a Housing Drive, feel free to get started now – here’s the checklist! Please call Hayat at 651-377-8663 to schedule your drop-off for early April or later.
  • Organize another kind of drive. In addition to Housing Drives, we often have special and timely needs. If your group is interested in organizing a drive for items like diapers, hats/gloves, or other needs, please give Hayat a call at 651-377-8663. Our needs are always changing, and together we can identify an opportunity that matches your interests and capacity with our latest needs.
  • Continue to share housing leads for 3+ bedroom homes via our Housing Availability Form.
  • Stay tuned for a link to the Institute’s Amazon Wish List. In March, we will re-open our Amazon wish list. Keep an eye out for the link on social media and in the Institute’s March e-newsletter — subscribe here.
  • Advocate for the Afghan Adjustment Act. The Washington Post explains the necessity of this bill and the direct pathway it would create for Afghans with temporary status to seek legal permanent residence in the United States. Please consider contacting your members of Congress in support of the Afghan Adjustment Act.

Thank you for all that you have done, and will continue to do, to welcome refugees and immigrants to Minnesota!

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